Historical Details

Lee, Orin

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 01/19/2021


by Dona Eddy

Esom Lee married Elizabeth McCleary Dec. 27, 1854 in Decatur County, Ind. Mrs. Lee was the eldest daughter of William and Nancy McCleary.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee went to Iowa the year after their marriage, traveling overland in an ox-drawn wagon. They settled first at what is now Smithland.  It was there that Woodbury County's first white child was born to them.  Mrs. Lee was also the first white woman to stand on the ground occupied by Mapleton, Iowa.  She lived to see the vir­gin prairie turn to fertile farmland.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee were the parents of 13 children, one of whom was Orin Lee (1860- 1945).

Orin grew to manhood here in Iowa.  He married Martha Knight (1870-1938). They were the parents of eleven children;  Ethel, Louis, Clarence, Hardy, Bertha, Winnie, Enos, Legrand (Dick), Nellie, Tom, and Roma. Two died in infancy.

Orin and his family continued to live on the edge of the frontier and after many trials  on the Nebr. frontier they decided to move on. On May 9, 1913 they left Mills, Nebr. and arrived in   Jireh ,   Wyo. May 13, 1913.   They came overland with five rigs and 70 head of cows, calves, horses and mules.

Each of the children had their part to do by driving a rig or ride horseback with the livestock. Children on the trip were Enos, Dick, Nell, Tom and Roma.

In Jireh, Mr. Lee worked in the lumberyard and repaired John Mills sheep wagons. The Lee children attended Jireh school.

Mr. Lee moved his family to Keeline in 1914, where they leased the Howard Martin homestead for pasture and farmland.

Mrs. Lee started a restaurant on the hill in a boxcar-shaped building. There were many days when she served 30-40 people.

The Lee family built a barn and corrals, which they also used as a livery barn. The boys had a dray service and did freighting for local people.

Orin and his sons, Enos and Dick, helped build many of the first business buildings in Keeline, having been hired by Tom Blair and Addison Spaugh at various times.

A treat for the whole family was a fishing trip to Ester Brook in July. A haysack with a canvas cover was used for a tent. The underneath of the rack was boxed in for provisions. It was pulled by a four horse team.


Lewis Lee, son of Orin and Martha Knight) Lee left Nebr. for Wyo, in 1904. His first job was working at the Amspoker Livery Barn in Douglas. Later he drove the stage from Douglas to Ross. He then became a cowboy at the Ogalalla Ranch where he became foreman.

He bought a relinquishment from a Mr. Sindler north of Keeline and homesteaded it.

He was an auctioneer in this area from the late teens until he traded his homestead to his parents for theirs in Nebr., and left Wyoming. This homestead was owned by Melvin and Ruby (Gaukel) Nelson and is now the home of Kenneth and Karen (Tyrrel) Gaukel, Kevin, Kurt, and Karma.

Lewis married Gladys L. Wiley and they were the parents of six children; Gene, Normal (Dietchler), Jack, Bob, Doug, and Maxine.


Clair Lee, son of Orin and Martha Knight) Lee came to Wyoming in 1908 from Nebraska He worked as a cowboy through­ out the country., He entered WWI. In 1917 and served with the first Cavalry Division, transferring to Field Artillary in France. Mr. Lee was known for his horsemanship. He broke horses for the Cavalry and won the first Cavalry Championship. He was a Wyo.  State Champion bronc rider and he is listed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame at Ogalalla, Nebr.  He worked in various Wyo. counties as a government hunter for 13 years. He ranched in the Powder River area, as well as having taken a homestead in 1919 about one mile northeast of his brother  Lewis' homestead north of Keeline. This homestead is now part of the Kenneth Gaukel place.

Mr. Lee married Laura Elizabeth Grammar (deceased) in 1921 in Lusk.    They were parents of four children; Donald R., Sundance; Clair E., Salt Lake City, Utah; Bonnie Wade, Lusk; and Edward F.(deceased) killed in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium during W.W.II


Hardy Lee, son of Orin and Martha (Knight)Lee came to Wyo. and took a home­ stead five miles east and six miles north of Keeline. He put in his crops and then in 1917 he served in the 83rd Field Artillery in W.W.I.

To his homestead he added those of Elmer Harris, Vernon Hulbert and William Kant. He married Della Musselman. They were the parents of three children; Mrs. Wylie (Audrey) Blevins, Casper; Bert of Louisiana; and Orin, who lost his life as a tailgunner in W.W. II.

They lived here for many years, leaving once only to return to the     quiet of the country for several more years. They sold their place to Floyd Engebretsen and made their home on Cedar St. in Casper. Since the death of her husband in 1968 she has continued to keep herself busy in her home.


Enos Lee, son of Orin and Martha (Knight) Lee came to Wyo. with his parents in 1913. He worked for his father and for Tom Blair and Addison Spaugh in helping to build the first businesses in Keeline. He worked Dr. Guy D. Murphy’s homestead for several years for the Doctor. He entered W.W. I. in 1918. He worked for Charles Hitshew and later for the Shaw Ranch south of Orin Junction.

In 1921 he married Georgia Grammar and they were the parents of two children; Jim, Billings, Mont.; and Bessie Denny, Billings, Mont.

They ran a store in Jireh, and Mrs. Lee was the last postmaster of Jireh when it closed in 1936. They now make their home in Manville, Wyo.


Legrand "Dick" Lee, son of Orin and Martha (Knight) Lee came to Jireh, Wyo. in May 1913 with his parents from Mills, Nebr. In 1914, they moved to Keeline where his father leased the Howard Martin Homestead. Dick attended the Jireh and Keeline schools.

Dick worked for his father, Orin, Tom Blair and Addison Spaugh in building the first businesses. He also worked for Charles Hitshew, Ollie Cannon and many others. He served 1n W.W. I .in 1918, in which three of his older brothers also served. In 1920 he homesteaded in the Powder River area. He broke sod for other homesteaders in the area. He married Ruby Baker, daughter of  Curtis Baker, homesteader of the Chalk Butte area north of Keeline. Mr. Baker had come to Wyo. in 1917, buying Mr. Ray Thompson’s relinquishment. Mr.Thompson,  a Jireh college teacher, had secured it as a relinquishment from a Mr. Mills in the east.

Mr. Baker had lost his wife, Mary Pender Baker, prior to his coming to Wyo. In 1918, Mr. Baker returned to his Wyo. homestead with his two children, Ruby and Dale (deceased).

Dick and Ruby (Baker) Lee returned to the Keeline area in 1926. They took over her father’s homestead. They are the pa­ rents of four children; Darlene Lee­ Martin Carter, Donnabelle Lee Stephens (deceased), Edna (deceased), and Steve, Keeline.

Other homesteads added were the Golden, Marietta Mayburn, Walter Scott, John Cunninghamc John Mcshane, Bob Lincoln, Alf Lincoln, A.H. Poles and Ava Thrasher.

Dick and Ruby now make their home in Lusk.The ranch is now run by Steve and Glenda Fales Lee.  They are the parents of two sons, Clay and Ty.   Dick is listed in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Ogalalla, Nebr. Steve is the son of Donnabelle Lee Stephens who was adopted by Dick and Ruby Lee after his mother Donnabelle died in Jan. 1946.

Darlene Lee was married to Edward Martin in 1938, two children were born, Ivol Edward and Fairy Darlene. Ivol was married to Bonnie McKelvey. To them three children were born; Gregory, Shelly and Russell, they now live in Centralia, Wash.

Fairy was married to Kim Brown, they had three girls, Rhonda, Kathy and Darla Kay. Fairy is now married to Melvin Flitcraft and lives in Powell.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Lee, Orin (10/03/1861 - 01/17/1945) View Record